Terraforming Mars

App review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Terraforming Mars App Poster Image
Space-based board game is rich, complex, and glitchy.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Ease of Play

The game puts a lot of weight on complex strategies. There's a lot going on at any given time. Players try to earn more victory points than their opponents through a variety of different actions and accomplishments, while simultaneously working to turn Mars into an inhabitable environment.

Violence

Some actions can put different factions in direct conflict with each other, but none of the violence is portrayed onscreen.

Sex
Language

There's no profanity, but there's an online chat for multiplayer that could expose younger players to potentially offensive language.

Consumerism

The game's the official adaptation based on the popular board game of the same name. This package includes the base game only, with none of the expansions that have been released for the physical board game, though these may be included later as downloadable content.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Terraforming Mars is the official mobile adaptation of Jacob Fryxelius' popular board game of the same name for download on iOS and Android based mobile devices. Players take on the role of a futuristic company as it competes against rivals to develop thriving communities on the inhospitable Martian surface. The game's complex and complicated, which could be overwhelming for younger or casual gamers. The game also supports both local and online multiplayer matches for up to five players, which could potentially expose players to offensive language via the chat feature.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byGrimwold August 31, 2020

Great game suitable for keen young boardgamers

My 10 year-old is a keen young boardgamer and he wanted to learn this having seen me play it. I had no qualms letting him play it as there is no questionable co... Continue reading

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What's it about?

TERRAFORMING MARS bring all the strategic gameplay and competitive flair of Jacob Fryxelius' award-winning board game to mobile gamers in this official video game adaptation.  Players run rival corporations competing against one another in a race to terraform the harsh landscape of the Red Planet. You'll earn victory points by achieving specific milestones while sabotaging the progress of your competition. All the while, you'll need to continue utilizing technological advances to balance the Martian temperature, oxygen, and climate to satisfy your colony's needs. You can play the game's Solo mode to try and completely terraform the planet within fourteen generations, or enjoy a more traditional board game experience in the game's robust multiplayer mode. You can also compete against friends and family in the game's local multiplayer matches, passing your device around between turns, or take the space race global with online multiplayer for up to five players.

Is it any good?

It's safe to assume that the colonization and terraforming of a hostile planet like Mars is a complex and complicated affair. And if you didn't believe that before, you will after playing a few rounds of this mobile adaptation of the popular Terraforming Mars board game. While the game seems simple enough at the start, it quickly becomes a strategic circus act, with players trying to balance tactics and micromanagement while juggling two completely different but connected paths to victory. On one hand, players have to find ways to adjust and maintain key elements to make the planet habitable. Simultaneously, they have to fend off rival corporations and race to accomplish key milestones, earning more Victory Points than the competition. It's easy to put too much focus into one at the expense of the other, which is a surefire formula for defeat.

One issue is that the game's not very inviting for newcomers. Even with its tutorials, it feels like players are tossed into the deep end of the pool before they learn how to swim. And this is a game where learning how to play on the fly just isn't going to cut it against the computer or against more experienced players. Online multiplayer can get frustrating at times in turn-based games, as it's difficult to even see which players' turn everyone is waiting on. Making matters worse, the game suffers from connection issues that often wipes out match progress if the game is interrupted in in any way. These sort of glitches don't necessarily ruin the game, but when they happen, it can definitely make players feel like walking away from it for a while.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about board games. What are some things that traditional style board games offer that other gaming genres can't? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages between digital versions of board games and their analog counterparts?

  • What are some ways to use games to bring families closer together? How can teaming up with and competing against family help to build closer bonds?

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love board games

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